Metaphors for Abstract Concepts: Visual Art and Quantum Mechanics
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Can metaphors suggest abstract, intangible concepts or is the metaphor limited to linking things within existing, known concepts that exist in the objective world? In this paper I discuss two opposing theories of the metaphor and their use to me as a visual artist as I attempt to express the imperceptible aspects of quantum mechanics. I argue that the empiricist theory of the metaphor that is based on existing knowledge of an objective world is unhelpful for the artist expressing abstract concepts, particularly because it is based on the premise that the only knowledge we can have is gained solely through our experience of the physical world. Under this view, a metaphor is incapable of expressing a concept that has no physical equivalence. The intellectualist and experientialist models, however, are not so limited and maintain that a metaphor is capable of inciting new knowledge both for the creator and the viewer. This is helpful for the artist engaged in making artwork concerning quantum mechanics and other intangible concepts. How this is done, psychologically, is left unanswered in these accounts. Accordingly, I argue Thomas Frentz's psychological model of the metaphor that calls into service both the Jungian theory of the collective unconscious and David Bohm's quantum theory of the implicate and explicate order is helpful to the artist in these circumstances.
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Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)